Door-to-door sales: Questions for consumers – National Consumers League

When a young salesperson comes knocking at your door, how can you tell whether it’s a legitimate sales company rep or a teenager who’s become involved in a dangerous traveling sales crew? The following tips can help you evaluate the situation, while keeping you – and the young worker – safe.

Stay Safe 

  • be very cautious about allowing people into your home unless you have requested the sales visit or are familiar with the company.

  • if alone, don’t let anyone in your home.

  • make sure minors alone at home do not open doors to strangers.

Be Smart

  • if your community requires door-to-door salespersons to have a permit, ask to see it and don’t do business with anyone without it.

  • be skeptical of dishonest sales tactics often used by traveling sales crews, such as:

  • the salesperson is in a contest and will win prizes for making sales.

  • the company is a charitable, nonprofit organization, yet you’ve never heard of it before.

  • the sales benefit youth programs to help youth stay off drugs, learn entrepreneurial skills, youth empowerment, etc.

  • the salesperson refuses to take “no” for an answer and uses high-pressure tactics, such as intimidating or threatening customers or refusing to leave until they buy something.

  • read before you sign a sales agreement.

  • get a receipt for any purchase.

  • never pay in cash.

  • don’t assume you can cancel an order. Yes, by law, you should be able to cancel if the order is more than $25. But, unethical companies may not provide real telephone numbers to call in order to cancel an order.

Be Aware

  • if you suspect that the salesperson is part of traveling sales crew, don’t let them into your home and don’t buy their products.

  • contact the police to notify them that a crew is operating in your neighborhood. Provide them with the name of the company and the product being peddled.

  • contact the police if you are concerned about the youth’s safety, such as working in inclement weather, visibly ill, etc.

Standards Ethical Door-to-Door Salespersons Should Follow

Keep in mind the following guidelines for ethical sales:

  • Offers should be clear, so consumers understand exactly what they are buying and how much they will have to pay.

  • The order form should clearly describe the goods and quantity purchased, the price and terms of payment, and any additional charges.

  • Recipients and contracts should show the name of the sales representative and his or her address or the name, address and telephone number of the firm whose product is sold.

  • All salespersons should promptly identify themselves to a prospective customer and should truthfully indicate the purpose of their approach to the consumer, identifying the company or product brands represented.

  • A salesperson should obey all applicable federal, state and local laws.

  • A salesperson should explain the terms and conditions for returning a product or canceling an order.

  • Salespersons should not create confusion in the mind of the consumer, abuse the trust of the consumer, nor exploit the lack of experience or knowledge of the consumer.

  • Salespersons should respect the privacy of consumers by making every effort to make calls at times that best suit the customer’s convenience and wishes.

  • It is a consumer’s right to end a sales call and salespersons should respect that right.

  • All references to testimonials and endorsements should be truthful, currently applicable, and authorized by the person or organization quoted.

  • Product comparisons should be fair and based on substantiated facts.

  • A salesperson should not disparage other products or firms.

  • A salesperson should not try to make the consumer cancel a contract made with another salesperson.